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Bryce Harper begins recruiting efforts with not-so veiled pitch to Mike Trout

TEMPE, AZ – FEBRUARY 19: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout (27) poses for a portrait during the Los Angeles Angels photo day on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire)

For those of you out there in Phillies Nation who dream of a lineup which one day features both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout covering the outfield together at Citizens Bank Park, you just may get your wish in the near future, at least if the Phillies newest superstar has anything to say about it.

At his  introductory press conference in Clearwater, Florida on Saturday afternoon, Harper explained that the terms of his contract were partially structured to help the team continue to build championship contenders in the coming years.

Harper then made a not-so-veiled reference to another superstar who is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2020 season:

Back in 2014, Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Angels which runs through the 2020 season. The Angels would love to work out an extension for Trout. However, The Athletic‘s Fabian Ardaya recently reported that owner Arte Moreno has said that his team has not had formal discussions with the two-time American League Most Valuable Player at this point. Trout has said that he wants to get ready for the season during spring training, and that contract talks would be a distraction.

It’s been well documented that Trout is a huge Philly sports fan who has been spotted recently at Philadelphia 76ers games. The Millville, New Jersey native has also been a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia Eagles for years and is one of the team’s biggest fans. It doesn’t hurt that Trout and Harper appear to be personally close.

It certainly does help that the $330 million guaranteed in Harper’s contract has been spread out over 13 years. The last few years of the deal will see him making just $22 million per season. For some clubs who had been involved in the Harper pursuit, such as the San Diego Padres, there could have been a fear that such a large contract might hinder a team’s ability to spend on other necessary parts. For the Phillies, that doesn’t appear that it will be a problem. At least not as long as John Middleton is in charge.

It remains to be seen what kind of contract Trout might receive when he hits free agency. He will be 29 years of age, three years older than Harper was this past winter. Of course, Trout has been far more productive than Harper, and is universally acknowledge to be the best player in the game today – one of the best in generations.

There are many other factors that could potentially get in the way of a Trout-to-Philadelphia scenario. Trout and the Angels could reach an extension before his contract is up. Trout could decide on a different location during his free agency, such as the New York Yankees. The Phillies could also add on more contracts as well before that time, making it more difficult to afford such a player of his caliber and value.

Trout has long expressed his desire to play for a winning team, and the Angels quite haven’t been able to fulfill his wish. If the Phillies up to what the roster is now shaping up to portend on paper, it may combine with the other positive factors to make it hard for Trout to go anywhere else should he hit free agency.

One thing is for sure, Harper laid out the red carpet this afternoon for his buddy to come join him. Harper has said that he will aggressively recruit other players to come to the Phillies, and that process appears to already be underway.




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